While measuring relationships should be the paradigm for social media analytics tools, relationship building is just an intermediate step for any marketing campaign. Ultimately, marketing needs to drive financial metrics found on balance sheets or income statements.
But the ROI you can derive from social media isn’t uniform across communities.
Twitter can increase customer loyalty by enabling you to do customer service online. Yet it’s not as likely to deliver potential RSS subscribers to your site the way Digg or Sphinn can.
As marketers, we tend to forget it when new mediums arise, but goals need to be set before you pick your medium.
And the goals you can set clearly can’t be the same for each community.
Facebook, remarkably, is gradually turning into a direct response marketer’s playground. The ads are typically more suited towards lead gen, but as the search engine gets better, I expect we’ll see successful sales efforts be carried out as well.
Twitter is still a mix of things, as its owners haven’t quite figured out who they want to target, but are happy to grow the platform in the meantime. Those publishing discounts online and who have a certain real-time marketing ability (e.g. the BBQ truck in San Francisco that tweets its new location every day) can benefit, but the ad platform is unsophisticated there, so far.
As to Digg and StumbleUpon, those are very much about relationship building and linkbait. Unless your company is geared towards a young male demographic, the direct response value of participating there is low. (Eg Pampers.)
You need to know what social site you’re on.